What Would You Do: Keeping Kids Safe On Bikes?


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Living in a tight-knit community has its perks (last minute babysitters you can count on, neighbors who will lend you the lawnmower, bars where everyone knows your name), but sometimes wanting to be neighborly can pose as many challenges as living somewhere without personal ties.

What Would You Do is a place to discuss difficult neighborhood issues–problems you run into around your neck of the woods, when it’s okay to step in, and how to do it most effectively without sacrificing the relationships you’ve built over the years. If you have a topic you’d like addressed in the series, let us know (we’ll keep you anonymous, we promise!) at

We’ve all seen it–kids riding their bikes around unencumbered by safety gear, or adults riding theirs down busy traffic corridors with kids perched precariously on the crossbar. While New York law mandates that children under 13 wear approved bike helmets and kids hitching a ride with parents be strapped into an actual child carrier, those rules aren’t always actually followed–whether it’s by unsupervised kids having a good, carefree time, or by their parents who likely better understand the concept of mortality.

What’s your feeling when you witness such situations? For one, do you agree with the laws–or do you think the state has no place telling people what to do with their (or their kids’) heads?

If you think safety gear should be worn, does that go for just bikes, or, say, kick scooters too? And if you saw a young child without a helmet, or riding somewhere unsafe, unsupervised or with an adult, would you step in? What if an adult was carting a child around without an affixed child seat?

Is it appropriate to tell a parent how to keep a child safe in this case, or do etiquette considerations go out the window when a kid is put in danger on the streets? Let us know below, and if you or your child is in need of a bike helmet, you can pick one up for free next Tuesday, May 13, from 4-6:30pm at the Central Library (10 Grand Army Plaza between Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue) while supplies last.

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  1. Mostly what I notice is young kids in carriers wearing helmets and parents going bare-headed. So obviously the parents are following the letter of the law while neglecting its spirit. It is tough to expect kids to continue wearing helmets when their parents don’t–just as it’s tough to have kids obey traffic regulations while riding when their parents don’t.
    Most of the problem stems from the persistent position in the U.S. that bicycles are toys, not a legitimate mode of transportation.
    This is far less of a problem in Europe, where cycling for transportation is widely accepted (and where, incidentally, helmet use is far less than in the U.S.).
    So-called “helmet threads” are the bane of cycling forums, and I will not argue for their effectiveness here. The evidence is out there, and I wear a helmet while cycling. But far more important is education for cyclists, drivers and all users of our roads.
    More information about bicycle safety can be found here:

  2. Driving exams also tend to be a lot more difficult in Europe than they are here. It shocks me how easy it is to get a diver’s license in the US.

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